Although Botox is considered a lethal neurotoxin, a poison that attacks the nervous system, the drug remains the most sought-after beauty treatment for millions of men and women alike. In fact, many plastic surgeons have recommended Botox as a non-surgical procedure for those who are interested in maintaining a youthful appearance but are averse to undergoing plastic surgery. For those who may not be familiar with Botox, they are injections that are applied around the eyes or forehead via a small hypodermic needle to help remove fine lines and wrinkles. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Botox injections accounted for more than 40 percent of all non-surgical procedures performed by cosmetic surgeons in 2014. In this article, we will explore the benefits and the not so publicized downsides of using Botox to improve your skin’s appearance.
SAFETY AND EFFICACY
Although botulinum toxin type A (Botox) is technically a toxic substance, it contains only trace amounts of botulinum toxins after it has been diluted in saline. Once injected into the skin, botulinum toxin type A works to restrict nerve activity in the muscles, causing them to relax, which, in turn, diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Botulinum toxin A should only be administered by a trained and licensed practitioner. Although FDA-approved, botulinum toxin can cause mild to severe health problems including respiratory failure and irritation at the injection site if not used properly.
Excessive amounts of the neurotoxin can also be life-threatening, which further demonstrates the importance of receiving treatments from a trained and licensed practitioner. Derived from Clostridium botulinum, injectable botulinum toxin A is relatively safe when used as intended. According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, botulinum toxin was found to be safer when used in cosmetic procedures versus therapeutic applications. To further emphasize this point, the study revealed that there were only 36 cases involving an adverse reaction to botulinum toxin when used for cosmetic purposes between 1989 and 2003. And of those 36 cases, 13 were linked to an underlying health problem.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF BOTULINUM TOXIN INJECTIONS?
Despite being FDA-approved and having very few documented cases involving adverse reactions, there are some side effects that you should know about before deciding to undergo botulinum injection therapy. Some of the more common side effects include
- Bruising or swelling at the injection site
Most patients report experiencing these symptoms shortly after undergoing botulinum injection therapy; however, they do subside after just a few days. The severity and intensity of botulinum injections side effects can vary depending on the injection site. For example, it is not uncommon for individuals who receive a botulinum toxin injections around the eye to decrease the appearance of crow’s feet to experience drooping eyelids, dry eyes, uneven eyebrows, or excessive tearing following their treatment. In rare cases, some individuals may experience a severe reaction to botulinum toxin injections, which can include the following symptoms:
- Respiratory problems
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty swallowing
- Urinary incontinence
- Blurred vision
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF BOTULINUM TOXIN INJECTIONS
Because the benefits of Botox for skin injections are short-lived, typically lasting 3 to 6 months, it is not uncommon for patients to want to undergo repeated procedures to maintain their youthful appearance. In doing so, however, they may be subjecting themselves to the possibility of developing weakened facial muscles and veins that become more prominent, particularly when receiving botulinum toxin injections to reduce forehead lines. Of course, the long-term effects do not end there.
According to Dr. Caroline A. Chang, MD, FAAD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology with the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, states that repeated botulinum toxin injections can gradually alter the appearance of the skin, causing it to appear wavy or discolored. Instead of relying on one type of treatment, Dr. Chang recommends that patients view botulinum toxin injections as part of a comprehensive approach to skin care. Topical retinoid creams, for example, can help combat premature aging and also reduce the number of botulinum toxin injections needed to keep your skin looking its best, according to Dr. Chang. For those who may not be familiar with retinoid creams, they are creams that contain vitamin A, which can be used to resolve acne and other skin conditions that contribute to dull-looking skin.
BENEFITS OF RECEIVING BOTULINUM TOXIN INJECTIONS AT A MEDICAL CENTER
If you have made up your mind to undergo a Botox for skin treatment, it is in your best interest to receive your injections at a professional medical center. In doing so, you can be assured that you will receive prompt medical attention should something go wrong. Also, knowing that you’re receiving injections from a licensed and trained practitioner can provide you with some peace of mind. After all, whether they are being administered for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes, undergoing botulinum toxin injection therapy is still considered a medical procedure. Of course, it is still important to do your due diligence and choose the medical center that best meets your needs and can help you achieve the youthful, radiant skin of your dreams. Additional benefits of having your botulinum toxin injections done in a professional medical center include
Better results – Generally speaking, a licensed and trained practitioner will be more familiar with the more than 40 muscles in the face and how those muscles work collectively to form facial expressions. This knowledge will enable them to perform expert injections that can lead to better and longer lasting results. In many cases, a patient will allow costs to guide their decision when choosing a practitioner to perform their Botox for skin injections only to find that they are having trouble making facial expression shortly after receiving their treatment. Although cost is important, it shouldn’t be the only factor that influences your decision when it comes to choosing a practitioner for your procedure.
Comfort – As with any medical procedure, comfort plays a key role when it comes to the success of your botulinum toxin injection procedure. One of the things that most people will agree on is that a clean, sanitary setting goes a long way toward putting your mind at ease before you receive your treatment. Also, if you’re concerned about pain or irritation at the injection site, practitioners in a professional medical center will often administer a numbing agent before performing botulinum toxin injections, which helps to minimize pain and skin irritation.
Quality products – Although it may be less to receive botulinum toxin injections from an unlicensed practitioner, you run the risk of receiving a counterfeit botulinum toxin formulations that may do more harm than good. In most cases, if a practitioner is advertising lower than average costs for Botox for skin injections, they are either using an inferior or counterfeit product. Basically, the likelihood of receiving an authentic product is higher if you opt to go to a professional medical center for your treatment. The best way to tell the difference between fake botulinum toxin formulations and their counterfeit counterparts is to look for the hologram logo, which denotes the product’s authenticity. Also, each botulinum toxin formulation should have a tamper-evidence sticker on the box that it is packaged in along with tracking numbers.
Safety – Regardless of what drives your decision to undergo botulinum toxin injection therapy, safety should always be your number one concern. The practitioners that work in a professional medical center are generally well-versed when it comes to how much botulinum toxin should be used on the skin and where those injections should take place. This level of knowledge and expertise can significantly lower your risk of an adverse reaction.
Also, in the event that something goes wrong, you’ll have the added peace of mind of knowing that there is someone to turn to should problems arise. If you were to receive your botulinum toxin injections from a fly-by-night operation, for example, you have no way of knowing for sure how long they will be around in the weeks following your procedure. While time is the only thing that can resolve a botched injection, there may be steps that can be taken to resolve droopiness of other imperfections in the interim.
In summation, botulinum toxin injections are generally safe and can provide short-term benefits, namely the appearance of radiant, glowing skin. However, you will need to undergo routine injection and also use a retinoid cream to keep your skin looking its best. Despite the many benefits associated with botulinum toxin injections, there are some risks that you should mindful of when deciding whether or not these injections are right for you. As with any matter involving your health, it is critical that you explore your options and do your due diligence when it comes to any skin treatment.